In his fall 2012 report released Tuesday, Auditor General Michael Ferguson concluded the Department of Finance Canada often does not take into account the impact of tens of billions of dollars of spending and tax measures on the government’s long-term fiscal sustainability.
Furthermore, the lack of federal reporting about long-term economic consequences of major government decisions means parliamentarians are forced to vote blindly on some budget measures without knowing their true impact on the country’s finances, the report says.
Just hours after the auditor released his report, the Finance Department unveiled a sweeping study on the economic and fiscal implications of Canada’s aging population. It projects that a greying society will translate into slower growth for the economy and government revenues, and additional stresses on public finances.
The auditor’s report says long-term financial projections are important because Canada faces many challenges that could impact the country’s fiscal sustainability, such as changing demographics, climate change and aging infrastructure.
The Harper government promised in its 2007 budget to publish a comprehensive report on the government’s fiscal sustainability that would provide a broad analysis of current and future demographic changes, and the implications on Canada’s long-term fiscal outlook. A draft report was prepared in 2007, but it has not been published.
Moreover, the long-term fiscal sustainability analyses have been regularly prepared since 2010, but have not been made public.
In contrast, governments in several Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries have regularly published such reports.
“This lack of reporting means that parliamentarians and Canadians do not have all the relevant information to understand the long-term impacts of budgets on the federal, provincial and territorial governments in order to support public debate and to hold the government to account,” the audit says.
In One-Man Rule the notion of responsible disclosure, analysis and accountability is irrelevant. The only one who needs to know is Steve, our Ruler. And contrary to the complaints of the Auditor-General, Steve's approach is anything but unusual in plenty of countries - take North Korea for example.